Sir George Martin, now a sprightly 80, glides into a small room at London's Abbey Road studios and takes a seat beside his son Giles. Just down the hall is the famous Studio 2, where, 40-odd years ago, Sir George and the Beatles created some of the greatest records ever made. The Martins 36-year-old Giles is also a producer, with a CV including Kate Bush and Elvis Costello are here to put the final touches on an extraordinary new Beatles project, a so-called ''mash-up'' album called Love. The disc takes elements from more than 130 original Beatles tracks and meshes them together into a ''panorama of sound,'' as Sir George puts it.
Giles hits ''play'' on the console in front of him, and out blasts the Beatles as you've never heard them. The basic track of ''Lady Madonna,'' for example, has been superimposed onto drums and percussion from the White Album's ''Why Don't We Do It in the Road?'' and ''Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.'' Somewhere in this stew is Eric Clapton's guitar solo from ''While My Guitar Gently Weeps,'' plus other ambient noises and sounds. The effect is thrilling and contemporary. ''We thought, if the Beatles were together today, '' says Sir George, explaining the record's ethos, ''what would they be playing? That was always in our minds.''
Purists may regard the concept of Love as bizarre if not a desecration of the Fabs' legacy. But the album has the support of all four Beatles custodians: Paul, Ringo, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison. According to Sir George, Paul told him that '''you could be more adventurous still, y'know....''' When Ringo heard the finished version of ''Octopus's Garden,'' ''his jaw dropped.''
Love started as a tie-in to Cirque du Soleil's ambitious Las Vegas show of the same name, but the potential to create a stand-alone album was always clear. Although the new versions of tracks like ''Get Back,'' ''Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!,'' ''All You Need Is Love,'' and ''Eleanor Rigby'' were manipulated with state-of-the-art digital technology, Giles stresses that the Beatles' artistry has been preserved. ''I would never try to put Ringo in perfect time,'' he says. ''It would sound horrible.''